Labour Party’s gambling overhaul plans receive support from Conservative peer

On 20 September 2018, we reported on the Labour Party’s radical plans to overhaul gambling regulation and advertising, announced by its Deputy Leader and the Shadow Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary, Tom Watson. It appears that those plans may receive a degree of cross-party support if the views stridently expressed by Conservative peer Lord Chadlington in the latest edition of The House – Parliament’s Magazine are shared by other members of his party.

In an article in that magazine published yesterday (entitled “We need to take bold action with gambling-related harm”), Lord Chadlington says “I am surprised to find myself not only agreeing with Tom Watson – but even urging him to be more extreme! That’s how strongly I feel regarding the Labour party consultation paper on UK gambling policy”.

  • On gambling advertising, he says: “Australia has banned gambling advertising during live sporting events and five minutes before and after the whistle, only to find that the hour before and after matches were crammed with such advertising. We should learn from the Australian experience and ban gambling advertising for at least an hour before and after live sporting events. Government should also evaluate the online threats – not only advertising, but in-game gambling opportunities – in loot boxes”.
  • On problem gambling, he says: “We must increase the levy on gambling companies from a voluntary 0.1% – which raises about £10m per year – to a mandatory 1% which would contribute £130m annually”, the same percentage advocated by the Labour Party.
  • On GambleAware, an independent charity tasked to fund research, education and treatment services to help to reduce gambling-related harms in Great Britain, he says: “There is a strong case for an overhaul of existing government and quasi-government bodies involved in gambling supervision. There may be a need for establishing a new, independent body with a clear remit, supported by all political parties”.

He concludes his article with the following words:

The tobacco advertising ban in 1965 positively shaped lives. We need to take equally bold action with gambling-related harm. By doing so we will also save lives, improve mental health and prevent many young people becoming problem gamblers. There are so many issues on which the Government and the opposition are divided. But here is one subject on which – judging by this Labour party consultation paper and recent opinion polls – there is so much common ground which also reflects the wishes of great swathes of the UK population. So why don’t we just get on with it? 

His comments build on earlier views expressed by him (on 19 July 2018) in an article entitled “We must make our gambling legislation fit for purpose”, published shortly after the Italian Government had announced, with effect from from January 2019, a blanket ban on all gambling advertising on and offline. He concluded that article with the words:

To ensure that our UK gambling legislation is fit for purpose, we need [an] independent review and scrutiny of digitised multimedia marketing if we are to avoid a gambling epidemic in the UK and if we are not going to look back in ten years’ time and wonder why we sat on our hands. Italy has recognised the severity of the problem and acted decisively. Why can’t we? 

The gathering storm continues to build.